The BHABHA Atomic Research Centre has recommissioned an upgraded version of ‘Apsara’, the country’s oldest research reactor that was decommissioned almost a decade ago.
- Apsara was first made operational on August 4, 1956, becoming Asia’s first research reactor at the time. The design of the pool-type reactor using enriched uranium fuel was conceptualized in 1955 by Dr. Homi Bhabha himself.
- Apsara is the oldest of India’s research reactors. The reactor was designed by the Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) and built with assistance from the United Kingdom (which also provided the initial fuel supply consisting of 80% enriched uranium).
- Apsara first went critical on 4 August 1956.
- Apsara is a light water swimming pool-type reactor with a maximum power output of one megawatt thermal (MWt).
- The reactor burns enriched uranium in the form of aluminum alloyed curved plates. Fuel for the reactor is supplied under contract from the United Kingdom, provided that the fuel is safeguarded.
- The Apsara reactor is utilized for various experiments including neutron activation analysis, radiation damage studies, forensic research, neutron radiography, and shielding experiments.
- The reactor is also used for research and the production of radioisotopes.
“Apsara-upgraded”, made indigenously, uses plate type dispersion fuel elements made of Low Enriched Uranium (LEU).
By virtue of higher neutron flux, this reactor will increase indigenous production or radio-isotopes for medical application by about fifty percent and would also be extensively used for research in nuclear physics, material science, and radiation shielding.
This development has re-emphasized the capability of Indian scientists and Engineers to build, complex facilities for health care, science education and research.